1199seiu Endorses Solitary Confinement Ban, Policing Transparency Legislation

December 18th, 2023

Press Release

1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East today announced its support for key City Council bills, sponsored by the Public Advocate, to ban solitary confinement in New York City jails and to require NYPD reporting on the number and nature of stops it conducts.

“1199SEIU strongly supports passage of Int. 549 and Int. 586 to protect the constitutional rights of all New Yorkers and ensure that justice is administered fairly and without racial bias. With NYPD stops again on the rise, it is crucial for the public to have access to data about how police interactions are impacting different demographics and communities throughout our city. And in city jails, we must end the cruel and inhumane practice of solitary confinement, which can cause irreparable, lifelong trauma and has been linked to self-harm and suicides. These reforms are long overdue and necessary to building a fairer and more effective criminal justice system,” said George Gresham, 1199SEIU President.

“1199SEIU is at the forefront of standing up for working people, for progress, and for justice,” said New York City Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams. “Members of 1199 are working on Rikers every day to promote and preserve the safety and well-being of people on both sides of the bars, to support systems which make our jails and communities safer. They are committed to the health of our city and everyone in it. It's an honor to have their support in our movement to ban solitary – not just in name, but in practice – in our city. It is equally exciting to have their voices amplify the need for the How Many Stops Act, to provide transparency and allow for accountability in policing. Work that began over a decade ago to protect community safety with better policing is at a critical moment, and I’m proud to stand with 1199’s leadership and membership to get this done.”

Intro 549, sponsored by Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams and Council Member Carlina Rivera, would put in place an enforceable ban on solitary confinement in New York City jails. While the U.N. has designated solitary as torture, the practice of punitive isolation currently continues in the city under other names. The legislation has a veto-proof majority of Council Members as co-sponsors.

“We’re at a critical moment and have the opportunity to make our criminal legal system more just and humane. I am proud to sponsor legislation to ban solitary confinement and bring accountability to police interactions with the public, and commend 1199 SEIU for their public support of these bills that will advance true public safety” said Council Member Carlina Rivera, Chair of the Committee on Criminal Justice.

Intro 586, one half of the How Many Stops Act, is sponsored by Public Advocate Williams and Council Member Alexa Avilés. It would require the NYPD to report basic information on level one, two, and three investigative encounters between the police and civilians. This information is critical to prevent the practices that led to the abuse of stop, question, and frisk prior to passage of the Community Safety Act in 2013.

“Organized labor has a decades-spanning history championing civil rights causes,” said Council Member Alexa Avilés. “I’m grateful to see 1199 continue in that legacy with their endorsement of the How Many Stop Act. Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity from the shop floor to our city blocks. Thank you for standing with us in this fight to protect peoples’ rights and safety.”

1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East is the largest healthcare union in the country, representing some 200,000 healthcare workers in New York City and 450,000 across the East Coast.

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